There have been no lack of stories retelling the events of the year 2012 A.D. There never is a dearth of these reviews at year end. Suddenly, everyone becomes an historian. Since part of my educational discipline is in history, there is one thing that I learned from my studies in this field.
There are lessons which history teaches us – but those lessons have no value unless we absorb them and take guidance from them to build a better future.
America has a unique history among the countries of the world which we have seen come and go over the centuries. It was founded on the principle of individual freedom and liberty as the most precious human right that a government could guarantee to its citizens.
That is a concept that many of us have forgotten – and many more have never learned. In part, that is because we now have school systems which depict the patriots at The Boston Tea Party as thugs, willfully destroying the property of others. How strange that on July 4, 1973, the U. S. Post Office issued a series of four stamps commemorating this very event of thuggery. A lot can happen to our thinking in four decades. And a lot has happened.
At the end of 1973, our National Debt stood at $458 Billion and our Gross Domestic Product stood at $1.4 Trillion, a ratio of 33%. At the end of 2012, it is estimated our National Debt will be $16.1 Trillion and our GDP will be $15.8 Trillion, a ratio of 102%. In other words, we have simply stopped being productive – both as individuals, taken as a group, and as a country. And we have been wasteful.
In some ways, we have cast ourselves in the role of Norma Desmond in “Sunset Boulevard” – the aging actress who relies on her past triumphs and has an expectation that because she was once great and admired, the world owes her a living and the next starring role. Unfortunately, the world has a different view.
This transformation didn’t happen overnight, notwithstanding all the media hype over the fiscal cliff. Whatever is or is not resolved in that matter will really be of little importance in the long, historical view of things. Some patchwork quilt “solution” will be hammered together by the short-sighted whom we elect to their respective seats in the Washington establishment.
If we are to take the Biblical injunction, “By their works shall ye know them” to heart, then we have managed to content ourselves with electing women and men to public office who have a fundamental philosophy of concupiscence and self-interest. Their concern is not for their constituents but for their own re-election and they will say or do anything that is necessary to insure that – no matter how the country might suffer as a result of their acts.
That mindset is thoroughly entrenched in the vast majority in the Washington oligarchy. And while that is frightening, what is yet more frightening is that we, the people, not only tolerate it but endorse it by re-electing these real thugs in election after election. It’s as though we are smiling as they hand us the shovel with which we have to dig our own grave before they mercifully put us out of our misery by shooting us in the head.
We didn’t get here overnight and we’re not going to get out of this mess overnight either. Of course, if we pursue our present path, we’re never going to extricate ourselves but will keep digging our grave deeper and deeper. At least that may be a good thing for the hardware stores that sell shovels.
I can think of no finer summary of our government’s modus vivendi than the following song from the musical, “Oliver” in which the thief Fagin explains his philosophy to his troupe of admiring young crooks.